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A client told me recently that she sometimes has trouble pronouncing words properly because she was raised by parents from another country and still has a bit of their accent at times. I suggested that she's not pronouncing words incorrectly if that's how they're pronounced in another English-speaking country. But she's self-conscious about it, so I decided to devote today's blog post to pronunciation.
How do you know if you're pronouncing words properly? You probably don't, because most of us have ways of speaking that we've developed over a lifetime of influence from parents, friends, our culture, and our state or region. The way we say things is the way we say things, and no one is going to tell us when we're wrong.
However, there are some words that are frequently mispronounced by native English speakers that have nothing to do with region or accent. One of the very first blog posts I wrote three years ago was about the mispronunciation of the word "a." There is one pronunciation for the word "a" and a different pronunciation for the letter "a."
Here are some other words that are frequently mispronounced/misunderstood. How many of these do you say?
No: Antartic | Yes: Antarctic
No: card shark | Yes: cardsharp
No: chomp at the bit | Yes: champ at the bit
No: excape | Yes: escape
No: expresso | Yes: espresso
No: forte (fortay) | Yes: fort (I only discovered this about a year ago!)
No: heighth | Yes: height
No: mannaise | Yes: mayonnaise
No: nuptual | Yes: nuptial
No: perculate | Yes: percolate
No: sherbert | Yes: sherbet
No: supposably | Yes: supposedly
No: triathalon | Yes: triathlon
For more fun with mispronounced words, check out this list. You will be shocked to see some of these; I guarantee it. You can click on the link for each correct word and hear the proper pronunciation.
If you're not sure about a word, look it up. Study lists like the one above to make sure you know what you're talking about. Pronunciation plays a big role in a presentation; don't let yours be a distraction to the audience. Maintain your credibility and authority as a speaker and an expert by using and pronouncing words properly.
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